Julie Haddon spent five years working for the NFL, but decided to make the jump to the NWSL because she saw the potential to create a new kind of sports league.

The new NWSL chief marketing officer helped create Super Bowl campaigns and grow the NFL’s digital footprint as the league’s senior vice president of global marketing and brand. She’s also worked for DreamWorks Animation, eBay, and Twitter, among other big names on her resume.

Haddon first entered the NWSL in 2021, when she bought a minority stake with the Chicago Red Stars. Thanks to this team, she secured a top spot on behalf of the league: Red Stars coach Rory Dames resigned last November due to allegations of abuse by former players, one of many NWSL coaches to have been accused of such conduct in the past year.

Following the reckoning, the NWSL appointed a new commissioner in Jessica Berman, and she sought to grow the league. Haddon was one of three new executives named by Berman on Aug. 17, alongside Tatjana Haenni, who will serve as the league’s chief athletic director, and Bill Ordower who will work as chief legal officer and chief operating officer.

When Berman approached Haddon about the job, she agreed in part because of the work the NWSL has done to keep players safe and their rights.

But it doesn’t stop there, according to Haddon, who sees the league’s players as key to his success.

“The word is transparency,” Haddon told AdWeek. “We have the opportunity to build a player-driven sports league. The players are the ones who capture the attention, the hearts, the minds, the minds of the fans. The fans support the players, the clubs come into play, as well as the ecosystem of sponsors and partners around the league – and that’s how you engage in this league.

This engagement will take place on various platforms. Haddon sees opportunities to grow the league through licensing, content, metaverse, NFTs and esports betting, especially after next year’s World Cup wave.

For Haddon, the league’s development work will start with the players and their stories.

“We have a very coveted and passionate fan base: a lot of super passionate fans who represent high lifetime value and are super-ultra committed,” Haddon said. “We have something magical for a lot of marketers: high-level storytellers who come from people who are organic advocates themselves.”